Citrus

Hollandaise Sauce

Here is the post implied by the ending of the recent herb steamed asparagus post, in which I finally tried making hollandaise sauce almost but not exactly as indicated in this recipe. I had bought two bunches of asparagus, and planned to do this with the second one, just because.

Weird, right? It doesn’t smack of frugality, and I have no reason to want hollandaise, having never, as far as I can recall, eaten it before in my life.

The thing is, the perceived difficulty of cooking eggs and keeping them liquid intrigued me. The idea of mother sauces intrigues me, especially since I rock at sauces and gravies generally. The presumed similarity to making homemade mayonaise intrigues me.

Finally, it’s part of the quest to make variants of plain old asparagus.

So. The recipe. I used 4 yolks, as it said. Most recipes I perused called for 3 yolks. My eggs were extra large, for what it’s worth, not large. I’ve had a goofy little egg separator for 30+ years and, as far as I can recall, have never used it. Until now! For one egg. Which told me doing it with my hands, as I have seen TV chefs do, was vastly better. The gadget was too small, and failed to separate the white as fully or quickly as my fingers. I saved the whites for another experiment, in a cake, since it was my birthday and I am the cook here.

I got about 3 tablespoons of juice from a lemon I had remembered to buy for the purpose, and used one for the hollandaise. See the aforementioned cake for the fate of the rest.

Now, every other recipe I looked at called either for (mostly) a tablespoon of water or (less often) a tablespoon of cream. Or maybe it was milk. This recipe had neither, but I used water anyway, and good thing. I could see it being even better with cream or milk.

I used salted butter. I do not as a rule have unsalted in the house. I buy it if I plan something I know calls for it, and care enough to comply. Some recipes specify unsalted. Some do not. I melted it carefully in the microwave, managing to come out with a complete melt that was no more than room temperature. In just one place I saw mention that sometimes clarified butter is used in hollandaise. I thought that sounded right, so as best I could, I mostly skimmed off the foamy milk solids. (If, like me until relatively recently, you have no idea what is meant by “clarified butter,” that’s all it is: melted butter with the light colored scum you see floating on top skimmed off. It sounds fancier and more intimidating than it is.)

The pinches of salt and cayenne were as directed, though I went very light on the salt, considering the salted butter.

The recipe describes the lemon juice and yolk mixture doubling in volume. I’m not sure mine doubled, though my dubiousness was mooted by seeing that it did increase in volume.

The method described for using a stainless steel pan with a saucepan is great as a makeshift double boiler. Granted, doing this made me pine for a double boiler, and I even found that there are pans sold that come with both steamer and double boiler insets. I checked, since logic suggested the possibility to me.

I would emphasize that pretty much continuous light whisking/stirring is imperative to keep the egg from cooking into solids. It has to cook as a liquid. When it was obviously done, I set the metal bowl into another bowl with shallow, cool water in it. That arrested the cooking process. Shortly after, I changed the water for warm so the sauce wouldn’t get too cold.

I steamed the asparagus with herbs, but less strongly than I had the first time. I thought the flavor would go well, even though the sauce would add flavor and a change of texture profile. That sounds all fancy.

The result?

It was tasty, but too lemony for me. I can’t imagine it is meant to taste that lemony. It was a bit thicker than perhaps is ideal. And that’s with the water the recipe didn’t include! I could have put in a tiny bit more to thin it, but didn’t bother. If I make it again, I would start by reducing the lemon. I would probably use milk or cream instead of water. I might experiment with seasoning the sauce. Heck, I’d be interested in using the basic technique for an eggy sauce to diverge into doing my own thing entirely.

Was it hard to make? No. I didn’t find it tricky at all. I can see how it could go terribly wrong, sure. But I had perceived the making of a sauce in which eggs are cooked liquid to be extremely difficult. Anyone paying adequate attention could do it. Now I know.

Moroccan Carrot Salad

[Edited]

I mentioned in my intro post that I might repost past stuff from the other blogs. I’d stumbled across a Moroccan Carrot Salad post from June 25, 2006, and wanted to remind myself I’d intended to experiment with the recipe. It’s summer, or at least the weather deities believe it should be in these parts, so now’s the time.

Last night I made Moroccan Carrot Salad, as seen on the rec.food.recipes newsgroup. It sounded intriguing and I figured it would supplement our contribution of mass quantities of beverages to my grandmother’s birthday party today.

I upped it to two pounds,¦ highly approximate on the carrot front, as it was the end of a 3 lb bag and part of a new 3 lb bag. We’ve been going through carrots lately, cooked and in salads. Sadie loves carrot sticks, though it’s freaky when she chipmunks them and spits them out an hour later in favor of eating something else.

I bought a real lemon on my trip to the Farmer’s Outlet, with no clue how much juice a lemon produces. It turned out to be exactly the needed 4 tablespoons. Cool.

Having no idea what orange blossom water even was, but being intrigued by the idea of a slight orange tinge, I added some juice squeezed from an orange section. That, maybe a tablespoon, was too much. The half cup of extra virgin olive oil seemed to be too much, too.

I was unimpressed right after it was done and well stirred together. It was sour/oily/orange enough then that I added two extra tablespoons of honey.

After sitting overnight, it’s good. Not fantastically amazing, and still needs to be tried with variations to make it more to my taste (might be as simple as adding more ginger and/or cinnamon, of which I added almost none), but sort of tangy, sweet and nutty at once. Sadie seems to like it a lot. Deb likes it but thinks the lemon and honey taste like they’re doing battle. Indeed. I suspect it’s going to be a matter of taste, who likes it a lot or not so much.

For convenience, here’s the actual recipe as I originally saw it on Usenet and used it in slightly modified form, all credit the the source link:

Moroccan Carrot Salad

1 lb sweet carrots peeled and fine grated/fine shredded
1/2 cup light or dark raisins
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp honey
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp orange flower water or to taste
cinnamon and powdered ginger to taste
salt and pepper to taste

The orange flower water adds a delicate and exotic orange flavor to this different but pleasant tasting salad. I serve the salad in a dark blue serving bowl for a striking appearance. Mix all together and adjust flavoring ( honey, lemon spices etc. ) to taste. Chill very well. Garnish with fresh mint. Yield 4 to 6 servings. Multiply recipe as needed.

(And yes, I did use a blue bowl, which coincidentally happened to be my best option for one-bowl prep and serving. It is a nice visual.)

I’m thinking that allspice might be another flavoring option, besides ginger and cinnamon. Indeed, allspice is one of those things I use surprisingly often, now that I have some. Not in the traditional ways – for instance, you can taste allspice if you eat a blueberry cake donut from Dunkin’ Donuts – but as dashes or pinches in things that could use a flavor adjustment.

When I get around to trying this again, I’ll make a small recipe, just for us. It was kind of risky, making an unknown item for a crowd.